Monday, March 1, 2010

Uganda Village Project at the Physicians for Human Rights Conference

contributed by Kristina Wang, MSI

When I talk about Uganda Village Project, I often get asked who we are. I think it’s easy to see UVP as an organization with a clearly defined mission statement. But beyond that, we are really a group of people individually motivated and passionate about seeing positive change globally. We just all happen to be tied together through our involvement in UVP.

Personally, I’m a first year medical student at UC Irvine in California. I spend most of my waking hours in class or studying and I spend my sleeping hours dreaming of anatomical structures and biochemical pathways. But I'm realizing that one of the greatest things about medical school, besides learning the practice of medicine of course, is the opportunity to discover how health is so intricately tied to all aspects of life.

At UC Irvine, we just started a chapter of Physicians for Human Rights and I've been lucky enough to be involved in the leadership to help direct the growth of our chapter. PHR is an organization that "mobilizes health professionals to advance health, dignity and justice, and promotes the right to health for all." This past weekend, I took a quick trip out to Boston to attend the Physicians for Human Rights National Conference and was pleasantly surprised to run into three other UVP alumni - Sujal (2005), Katie (2004, 2005), and Kate (2008). Both Sujal and Katie were leading portions of the conference; Sujal was on a three-person panel with a doctor and a professor discussing how health and human rights are intertwined and Katie lead a breakout session teaching us how to integrate human rights into a formal part of our medical education. I really shouldn’t have been surprised to see so many familiar UVP faces at this conference because our work in Uganda is an approach to obtaining health and human rights. The heart that drives my desire to see human rights recognized is the same heart behind our work in UVP.

Every year, I am so impressed by the caliber of volunteers we have in Uganda. They are always beyond qualified, they are so passionate, and most importantly, they are able to turn their passion into real and effective work. I often forget that UVP is just a portion of what our volunteers do and that they come home from Uganda and continue to do inspiring work. They continue in their desire to see justice realized through human rights and medicine by becoming physicians, pharmacists, entering the public health sector, and placing themselves in strategic positions to educate others.

This is what UVP is made of and this is why I continue to be impressed and inspired by the work our small and young organization is able to do in Uganda.
Photo is of Kristina in Uganda, with a local Ugandan using WaterGuard chlorination to make water safe to drink

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